13 July 2007

Educational Social Software

Hi Folks,
I would like to give here a brief overview of educational social software - what it is and how useful - and then in a future Posting review one of them in more detail.
While ten years ago the internet was basically a read-only resource, it has evolved now into a write-and-read media in which user-generated content is a massive driving force that has revolutionalized the internet, to such an extent that people talk of Internet 2.0 . Social Software, sometimes referred to as Social Apps or applications, is now dominating the internet. There are more than 400 applications available with at least one new significant application being added each week. Common applications include Friendster, MySpace, del.icio.us, Flikr, Facebook. YouTube, SecondLife, and thousands of blogs and wikis.
Friendster was started in March 2002, has more than 45 million users, and is the largest of these. It also holds the global copyright patent on social networking applications granted to them on 27th June 2006, but not yet applied to my knowledge in the courts against the others. They hold now the patent on the "system, method, and apparatus for connecting users in an online computer system based on their relationships within social networks". They refused a buyout offer from Google in 2003, and since 2004 have been in decline. MySpace now has the most hits and interactions per day. Here is a screen grab of the Friendster site

Social Apps are increasingly being used in education, though these are mainly limited to blogs. Podcasting and wikis are rarely used in education. I have for instance designed and deployed a blog for educational use worldwide linking students on four continents inside the same shared blog at the same time (with same log-in name and password) in America, India, S Africa, Malaysia, Germany and Japan. And I will use educational blogs in all my courses starting in October. Here is a photograph from the teacher's desk showing this student blog live in action, where the teacher or any peer can synchronously moderate and help others -

Most Social Apps are not free. However I have noticed in WebCT that users have remarked about the small whiteboard size available, so you might be interested in this huge whiteboard full-screen across 24 inches here ; smaller if you are using a laptop or iPod ;-) free from General Electric at http://www.imaginationcubed.com shown here

and this may be of immediate utility to you if you want a larger whiteboard for sharing with two friends. There doesn't appear to be an eraser, but it is free and you can start over easily, email the result to others and print out the result too - more than was possible in the WebCT Virtual Classroom Whiteboard Area.
As I wrote, there are hundreds of Social Apps, although very little academic literature on them as yet. Nevertheless, I will review what there is of the literature very soon.
All Best Wishes

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